I’m unemployed and don’t have a place to live beyond mid-August; what I mean to say here is that, rather than host a pity party, it’s the perfect time for impeccably choreographed dance numbers, glittering costumes, and a dizzying number of love triangles. That’s right—it’s the first ever Bollywood month on the Blog Collab!
Identical twin brothers raised separately plan to marry their girlfriends despite family disapproval and the disastrous attempts of their uncle to help.
On a dark night in England in 1990, twin babies Charan and Karan survive a car crash that kills both of their parents. Their uncle Kartar is guardian of the two boys…until he realizes the whole parenting thing isn’t really his cup of tea. The boys go their separate ways; Karan to be raised by his aunt Jeeto in London, and Charan in Punjab by his uncle Baldev.
From even our opening song-and-dance number, it’s clear that Charan is the good Punjabi boy (and devout Sikh), while Karan is the flashy bad boy. Though far apart in location and in personality, the now grown twins are on the same page when it comes to settling down. Karan is ready to marry his girlfriend of two years, Sweety. Unfortunately, Sweety makes a dismally poor impression when meeting Aunt Jeeto, and Karan decides to hold off on his news.
Meanwhile, Uncle Baldev has arranged an engagement for Karan to Binkle, the daughter of a influential man. Determined to get out of the arrangement, Karan suggests it’s his brother Charan who should marry Binkle. Complications abound as Charan himself is eager to marry his girlfriend Nafisa, a Muslim woman he fears the family won’t accept.
After arriving at Uncle Kartar’s extravagant Mini Punjab in England, Charan does little to hide his dismay at his impending engagement. Due to the influential nature of Binkle’s family, Charan cannot back out of the arrangement; however, Kartar helps his nephew scheme to meet with disapproval. Kartar’s best plan is for Charan to pretend to be a drug addict. Of course, nothing could possibly go wrong here.
When Charan meets Binkle, she’s a total sweetheart and he’s instantly smitten. Though he changes his mind on his uncle’s questionable plans, it’s too late–when Binkle’s brother accuses Charan of drug abuse, a major dispute erupts, pitting the twins’ families against each other. To save face, Baldev vows he will see Charan married within one month, even if the engagement to Binkle has fallen through.
Now that Baldev is determined to make such a quick engagement, the time seems right for him to coincidentally meet Nafisa. If she charms Charan’s uncle, it should be easy for the two to become engaged. However, Baldev mistakes Nafisa for Karan’s girlfriend and, besides, is less than dazzled by her personality. Rather than Nafisa, Baldev has another young lady in mind for Charan…none other than Sweety! More than a little irked with Karan, Sweety agrees to the engagement. Just like that, not one, but TWO weddings are in the works, set for December 25th in London.
What follows is scheme after scheme, each one ending in its own spectacular disaster. With the weddings fast approaching, the only option left seems to be elopement. Kartar is all for this until he is haunted by a dream of his late brother, who reminds him of the shame this will bring to the family. Done with elaborate plans, Kartar insists the young couples leave their fate in God’s hands. Will divine intervention bring about a happy end where mortal means have failed?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Oh my GOD, this film did not need to be 2 1/2 hours. After a while, all of the schemes feel repetitive and–sorry for the spoiler–the ending of the film doesn’t exactly defy expectations. Also, the potential for comedic mistaken identity is grossly underutilized considering our main characters are IDENTICAL TWINS.
I will concede that the cast here is great. Anil Kapoor as Kartar is a standout, and I love that he’s basically living the dream that I imagine all people of nations colonized by white people share: lavishing in a country estate with a white servant at his beck and call. Arjun Kapoor is also impressive considering he plays both main roles in this lengthy feature, quite often conversing with himself and occasionally mirroring his own dance moves.
Fun fact for my fellow clueless white people: there is a LOT of English in this film, with actors switching back and forth between Hindi, Punjabi, and English within the same sentence. I had to Google this, but it’s apparently a thing in a lot of Bollywood films since English is such a ubiquitous and, er, cool(?) language.
One of the few Bollywood films I’ve seen is Bride & Prejudice, and this film reminded me of why the Bollywood adaptation of Austen worked so well (see also: colonization. Again). Mubarakan, like much of Austen, is very much a comedy of manners, responding to rather strict expectations surrounding marriage and the discouragement of openly discussing romantic love. The couples in this film balance their feelings of love with the conflicting demands of family, duty, and restraint–plus there’s more dancing than you can shake a stick at.
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